X-Sheets, Exposure Sheets, Dope Sheets...these are various ways I have heard them referred to over the years. However you call them in your country, these are of extreme importance.
Here are the X-sheets for the Hank the Spider Monkey scene I've posted in the past. This is how a director can tie together all the elements of a scene.
The elements are:
Music (as represented by the "Beat" notation in the "Action" column every 16 frames;
Action (as described in the "Action" column);
Voice (as indicated in the Dial[ogue] column);
The animation drawings (in whole and on separate levels);
Camera moves (as indicated in the "Camera Instructions" column)
The far left hand column with the heading "FR" is for the exact frame count in the entire sequence this scene appears in. This starts with number 881. The red numbers that I wrote on the right hand side of the "Action" column indicates the number of frames of this particular scene. I might redesign this X-sheet, replacing the next column heading "SB" (short for "Storyboard") with "ScFR" (short for "Scene Frame").
Using this method to plan out an entire animated film is no different than a composer writing down all the notes of a symphony to be played by a 50 piece orchestra, and giving indications as to how each note is to be played by the musicians.
In planning out my animation, I describe all the particulars of the action, coordinating it with the beat. For example: I call for hitting a specific pose on the beat (Fr 935) 6 frames ahead of the word "Africa" that starts on frame 941. I then have a four frame "Magic Fingers" cycle that works within the 16 frame Beat.
It's being this specific that saves a lot of reworking of the animation after the first pencil test.
Some may ask, "What do you leave up to the animator?" My answer: "Depends. How good is the animator?"
But no matter how talented the Animator, the exposure sheets are still the Director's plans for the entire picture, tying everything together for all departments to see and coordinate with each other.
To illustrate the results of my use of X-sheets (and even bar sheets for the "West Side Story" sequence), here's a link to my first directorial assignment at Nelvana (August 1979). This is the middle section of "Easter Fever" one of the TV Specials that Nelvana produced and were aired during the late 1970s. Perhaps in a later post, I'll describe the backstage efforts it took to do this TV Special. Or if you have specific questions about the piece, I'll incorporate my answers as part of my post.
My Sequence begins at 0:29 of this clip and goes to the end of it.